Metropolitan Transportation Authority police officers are getting a new tool that aims to lower the spike in heroin overdoses as part of a campaign led by the state attorney general. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
Naloxone is no ordinary nasal spray. It's a drug designed to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose, and one that Metropolitan Transportation Authority police officers will soon be able to use.
On Tuesday, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that his office is providing $40,000 to the MTA force to buy 670 Naloxone kits.
"It could only be administered intravenously, and then they developed a nasal spray so that every police officer can administer it safely," Schneiderman said.
Police officers who patrol the commuter railroads, rail stations and the Staten Island Railway will be trained to use the drug in medical emergencies, just like New York City Fire Department paramedics and New York City police officers on Staten Island, who began carrying the drug in December and have already used it multiple times.
Officials said the rise of the antidote comes as the city sees a spike in deadly heroin use..
"In New York City, heroin-related overdose deaths increased 84 percent between 2010 and 2012 after four years of decline," Schneiderman said. "We are facing a heroin epidemic in our state, and it's important that we apply what we call in criminal justice an all-levers approach."
"Anybody who thought that heroin use was a thing of the past or localized to certain neighborhoods had better think again," said MTA Vice Chairman Fernando Ferrer.
Since the Community Overdose Prevention Program was launched in April, more than 100 law enforcement agencies from across the state have applied to join the program. It's one that Michael Coan, the chief of the MTA Police, said could have come in handy already for his officers.
"Out of the thousands of aided cases, we have had a handful of overdoses, and quite possibly, we could have saved lives," Coan said.
Susan Salomone, whose son, Justin, died of a heroin overdose in May 2012, said putting Naloxone in the hands of more police officers can be the difference between life and death.
"I really appreciate that you're coming out, attorney general, and letting the world know that this is an epidemic," Salomone said.
It's one that took her son at age 29.